Review Fix Exclusive: Pete RG Talks ‘Tender Souls’

Review Fix chats with singer/songwriter Pete RG who discusses the origin and inspiration for his new album, “Tender Souls.”

About Pete RG:

Born in Los Angeles to Greek immigrants, PETE RG grew up in a musical household. As working musicians, his parents inspired him to learn a variety of instruments and start playing band gigs while in college. Beginning in 1998 and up into 2007, he was the principal songwriter and lead singer with the popular indie band, Last December.

During that time he also laid the foundation for his solo career, with years of live shows that most recently included a 25 show, Spring 2016 U.S. tour with Candlebox. In its review of one club date, PancakesAndWhiskey.com pretty much summarized all that PETE RG offers to his audiences: “high-quality rock wth honest and engaging lyrics, a hammering backbeat plus gorgeous harmonies.”

His rich baritone voice became the center of a sound that has reached fruition on his full-length release, TENDER SOULS, which was released September 23, 2016 on his own 4L Entertainment label. Spacelab.tv spoke for many in confirming that he “doesn’t have to rely on gimmicks to make you feel moved — just good old-fashioned talent and personality.”

Review Fix: How did your childhood play a role in your decision to devote your life to music?

Pete RG: I was born into music.  My parents were in a band together.  My mom was the lead singer while my dad played bass and wrote many of their songs.  In fact, my mom has a story of how they performed at the Troubadour when she was about eight months pregnant with me and I was kicking away the whole time.  So, I guess you could say, I started performing at a very, very early age.

Review Fix: How has your sound evolved over the years?

Pete RG: My sound has evolved from straight up folk to full blown indie rock band. Like so many other musicians, I began writing and performing alone on acoustic guitar. As my skills grew in both areas, I learned that the sound in my head was more than what could be accomplished by a solo acoustic guitar and voice. So, I graduated to a small band. Eventually, I wanted a bigger sound. Hence, a bigger band. I’m careful to stay true to my singer-songwriter roots.  If I can’t comfortably play a song alone on acoustic guitar, or piano, it’s probably not the right song for me.

Review Fix: How special is it to be able to work with Brina Kabler?

Pete RG: It’s amazingly special.  We work together in our recording studio. We tour together. We go home and come up with new song ideas together while making dinner.  If we’re not around each other- -a rare moment–we’re texting each other musical ideas.  All this, and we don’t even like each other.  No, seriously, our chemistry and connection is very strong.  It’s oh so special.  We both feel fortunate to share so much together.  From a purely musical standpoint, I couldn’t be luckier to have such a talented engineer, musician and producer as my wife-to-be.  Brina’s ideas and taste are as much a part of “Pete RG” as I am.

Review Fix: What makes the latest album special?

Pete RG: It was the first time that our band created an album together.  Up until then, it was Brina and I demoing the songs and taking them to the guys to replay and enhance our ideas.  With this album, all of the members were involved in bring the songs to life from the beginning.

Review Fix: How is it different from the band’s other work?

Pete RG: It’s an evolution of our time together in the studio and on the road, especially the latter.  As I mentioned. the first songs we released–songs such as “Still Here” from the “Lightning Strikes” EP–were written and developed in the studio with Brina and I doing nearly all of the arranging.  Once we started playing live, we grew from a bunch of good musicians following the map that Brina and I drew into a good band.  Many of the songs on “Tender Souls” were inspired while on our first tour.  It’s kind of like a stew.  The more it brews, the more the ingredients come together and the better it tastes.  In fact, we’ve begun working on our next album.  After so much more touring since recording “Tender Souls,” it’s already shaping up to be at another level, if I may say so myself.

Review Fix: What’s the standout song on the album? How was it written?

Pete RG: To me, it’s “Heaven Knows.”  Not only does it have that big hook to kick it off, it’s got a swagger that’s killer to play live.  It’s so much fun every night.  Two words sum up how it was written: very painfully.  The verse and chorus ideas for the song came pretty quick.  But, the song needed a bridge and we got stuck.  Rather, I got stuck.  I was banging my head against the wall trying to find a good bridge.  Eventually, I put the song on the back burner.  I needed some time away.  Frankly, I forgot about it.  But, Brina never gave up on it.  Several months after I’d shelved it, we took what we had to the band.  We still couldn’t figure out what to do for a bridge. So, we started holding time with the “drums only” back beat that’s on the recording.  We were thinking that eventually we’d come up with something to replace it.  We decided to play it live, unfinished, while touring as the support act for Candlebox last spring.  It was a bit of a gamble.  Things would be different every night and the audiences were pretty big.  The chance of failure was high.  But, slowly, we caught on to something.  An energy.  And, with that, the final version of the song started to emerge.  Right there in front of a thousand or more people every night.  Very cool.

Review Fix: What’s going to make this tour different?

Pete RG: New cities, new faces, new inspirations.  A band that’s really starting to hit it’s stride.  We’re now so comfortable on stage that we could play any size venue, large or small, on any night for any crowd.  It’s a great sense of confidence to have.  Dave Krusen won’t make this tour, because he’s rehabbing a back injury.  He’s be back on the road with us in May for the next tour.  Fortunately, my dear friend and equally fantastic drummer, Scotty Kormos, will be filling in.  Scotty and I have played together for a long time.  He’s the ultimate pro.  Plus, he’s been instrumental in a number of our recordings and joined us on our recent European tour.  So, he knows the songs as well as any of us.

Review Fix: Feelings on the upcoming tour?

Pete RG: Excited!  This is our first time touring the Southeast U.S. on our own tour.  We’ll be playing some great cities we love, such as Nashville, as well as cities new to us, such as Charlotte and Birmingham.  I always love the adventure of a tour.  Catching the views while driving.  Rolling into town.  Seeing some sights in those few hours before soundcheck.  Finding a good restaurant for some good local food.  Hitting a bar for some local hang.  So much packed into each day.  I love it.

Review Fix: How is the band’s sound different live?

Pete RG: It’s edgier and more epic.  We do our best to stay true to the sentiment and vibe of the recordings.  That often involves making changes to the tempos, song keys and arrangements to make them translate better, live.  We call it “concertizing” them.  I’m not talking wholesale changes.  I’m talking subtle ones, for the most part, but the effect is substantial.  Plus, being a new band, our rate of growth is fast.  So, the more we play them live, the more life the songs take on.  It’s really enjoyable to see how much we’ve grown.  I can feel us evolve each time we step on and off the stage.

Review Fix: What’s next?

Pete RG: As I mentioned, we’ve started work on a new album.  We plan to release it in early 2018.  In the meantime, we’ll release a couple of singles in 2017 to satisfy the Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music monsters.  They demand more new and more now, every day.  Likewise, we’ll hit the road again in May for a return tour of the Northeast U.S. in support of the “Heaven Knows” single.  Lastly, we’re planning another U.S. and European tour for the fall.  Playing live is essential.  Absolutely essential.  And, I’m sure, added to all of these plans will be the unexpected opportunity.

Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?

Pete RG: We all know the story about how much money the music industry has lost to technological change and piracy.  While this is true, the emotional return one gets from making music hasn’t declined.  If anything, it’s grown as people now have more tools and avenues at their disposal than ever before to make and find music.  I think if we take a moment to measure music in terms of spirit rather than dollars, music is as valuable to our lives as ever.

About Patrick Hickey Jr. 9000 Articles
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Master Jedi and Grand Pooh-bah of ReviewFix.com and is the author of the book, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers," from leading academic and non-fiction publisher McFarland and Company. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College and is a former News Editor at NBC Local Integrated Media and a National Video Games Writer at the late Examiner.com. He has also had articles and photos published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Complex and The Syracuse Post-Standard. Love him. Read him.

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